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Saving the Whales

Kate DavisonKate Davison/eyevine/Redux

The Japanese will have to give up whaling “research” that killed many hundreds of the huge sea mammals each year.

When is whale research not whale research? When you capture the whales, kill them and eat them. That was the essence of the International Court of Justice decision on March 31 that ordered a temporary halt to Japan’s annual slaughter of whales in the Antarctic. The Court concluded that the hunts are actually whaling expeditions, not scientific research as Japan has claimed for many years.The U.N. court’s decision was a 12 to 4 majority among a panel of judges.

Move over Mia

Syria’s Refugee Soccer Starlets

Thomas Koehler/Photothek, via Getty

At the Zaatari refguee camp, where families try to piece their lives together after fleeing Syria’s civil war, a group of young women are showing that soccer may be the key to bridging violent divides.

Life for most Syrian children is a pale, unhappy imitation of their pre-civil war existence.Where once they went to school and played with their friends, now they must grapple with government barrel bombs and infighting among religious extremists.Syrian refugee kids who’ve fled into exile in Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon are, in some ways, among the lucky ones: they’re largely safe from the relentless killing, but the grinding uncertainty of displacement and haunting memories of the 140,000 slain so far have exacted a grueling toll on their impressionable young minds.

Of War & Watercolors

Turning Ukraine’s Bullets Into Art

Konstantin Chernichkin/Reuters

As the Maidan burned, Kiev’s artists on the barricades collected memorabilia to turn into creative projects. The first pieces commemorating the revolution are now on display.

One of Kiev’s most prominent artists, Ilya Isupov, opened the glass doors of the bookshelf in his front room and demonstrated his historical collection. The artist found his first “revolutionary artifact” last December: a wooden peg that had connected Lenin’s statue to its pedestal for 67 years, before protesters toppled the monument at the end of last year. Pieces of grenades, shells spotted with soot and a ripped-up bag that once belonged to an anonymous soldier of the Maidan’s Self-Defense Army—every piece represents a historical moment that the artist and his family experienced over the last four months.

Let’s Make a Deal

Vatican Boots Con Men, Finally

Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty

Pope Francis has vowed to clean up the Vatican Bank, as a couple of fraudsters discovered when they showed up with fake bonds supposedly worth trillions of dollars.

VATICAN CITY — The two smartly dressed middle-aged men who tried to bluff their way into the Vatican Bank this month might have expected they’d be welcome. And a few years back, they might have been right.The dapper gentlemen, an American and a Dutch-born man, calmly told the Swiss Guards at the Vatican main gate that they had an appointment at the bank, which occupies a round and rather ominous looking medieval tower inside the city state’s walls.

EXCLUSIVE

‘Chocolate King’ to Save Ukraine?

© Stringer . / Reuters

Billionaire candy manufacturer Petro Poroshenko may well be elected president of Ukraine in May. His mission: Take his country into Europe while making peace with Putin.

According to opinion polls, the most popular leader in Ukraine and very possibly its next president is Petro Poroshenko. To be sure, he’s less well known abroad than the mediagenic Yulia Tymoshenko—she of the blond braids—or the towering former world heavyweight boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko. But the square-faced 48-year-old Poroshenko is famous inside the country for his confident character, his aura of calm, and the fortune he made making chocolate before he went into politics.

Up in the Air

The New Fear of Flying

Eduardo Leite

No accident in history of flying has ever spooked as many people. It’s a crisis for the airline industry that wants to make Asia a larger market than North America and Europe combined.

Fear of flying is irrational but often incurable. Once the doors close on the cabin there is no escape. Your life is in the hands of the pilots together with the most complex machine ever devised for travel. You have no control. The requirement for you to submit to confinement is reinforced by accepting the first bag of peanuts.Irrational? Just look at the numbers. Last year 1.3 million people died in road accidents worldwide. Globally, just 173 died in airplanes last year- down from 388 in 2012 and 626 in 2010.

PM’s Win: Still a Loss in Turkey

© Umit Bektas / Reuters

Despite possible corruption activity, the Prime Minister’s victory in Sunday’s elections proves his party is still stronger than the opposition.

After trouncing the opposition in municipal elections seen as an unofficial referendum on his government on Sunday, Recep Tayyip Erdogan more or less declared war on his opponents and signaled that he was no longer interested in the West’s opinion about him.In an uncompromising victory speech at the AKP headquarters in Ankara, the 60-year-old Erdogan did not mention his country’s long-standing bid to join the European Union by raising democratic standards, declaring instead that Turkey had “the democracy that the West is yearning for.

TASTES GRRRREAT?

China’s Secret Tiger Meat Trade

© Beawiharta Beawiharta / Reuters

A forbidden practice becomes popular among China’s ruling class: watching the animals die before eating them.

China’s wealthy “dragons” like to dine on tigers. In fact, they’ll even watch them die first and then boast about it on social media. Unfortunately, police don’t consider this behavior worth “liking” and so it became the center of a scandal last week when authorities busted an illegal tiger-eating dinner club in Guangdong province.According to a March 26 report in the state-run regional newspaper the Nanfang Daily, police crashed the party of wealthy businessmen and government officials in the city of Leizhou just as they prepared to nibble on a freshly slaughtered cat.

Why Africa’s Turning Anti-Gay

Stephen Wandera

Western activism is causing more harm than good to a continent making LGBT people into scapegoats for colonialism.

As an LGBT activist, I was always happy to see my picture in the paper. It showed that I was doing my job, getting attention for the cause I believed in—and, of course, getting some attention myself. But after a story about George Freeman, director of the Sierra Leone LGBT organization Pride Equality, was published in a local newspaper last year—with photos accompanying it—he was dragged from his car and beaten by two men on motorcycles.Freeman never consented to the story; the newspaper culled its content from an MTV interview.

Crisis in Ukraine

American Muscle for Ukraine

MANDEL NGAN/Getty

To deter Putin and other aggressors, diplomatic and economic slaps are not enough; the U.S. needs a military dimension.

Don’t pop the champagne corks just yet because Vladimir Putin phoned Barack Obama to pursue diplomacy on Ukraine and environs. It may be just a ploy, like Moscow’s proposal to denude Syria of chemical weapons to head off a potent U.S. air strike against President Assad’s forces. It may just be a gambit to tamp down the West’s drive toward greater sanctions against Russia. And all sinister explanations of the call gain weight by the fact that some 25,000 Russian troops still threaten Ukraine’s borders.

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Crisis in Ukraine

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